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Obesity In Children: What Parents Should Know

Obesity In Children: What Parents Should Know

Obesity is the most common dietary issue affecting teenagers and children. In America, 16–18% of children and teenagers are overweight and 21-24% are obese.

Now, this brings us to the question, what is Obesity in children? In this article, we will be discussing the definition, causes, prevention, and diagnosis of obesity in Children.

What is Obesity In Children?

Obesity in Children is a challenging condition in which your child weighs more than is recommended for their age and height. The clinical description of childhood obesity is possessing a body mass index (BMI) at or over the 95th percentile on the unique growth charts developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  A child’s BMI is different from an adult’s. This is due to the fact that children’s body compositions change as they get older.

What Causes Obesity In Children?

Obesity in children is a complicated condition with various underlying factors. It’s not due to an absence of effort or commitment. A specific number of calories are required by your child for growth and maturation. On the contrary, their body retains additional calories as fat whenever they consume extra calories than they burn. Several of these factors that contribute to adult obesity also affect children. 

Cultural influences

The promotion of unsafe food items and fast food restaurants may be a factor in obesity in children. Children are exposed to adverts on television and posters around their areas. Most of these foods frequently have high-calorie counts and/or big serving quantities.


Common family behaviours including eating patterns and inactivity may be a factor in obesity in children. The ratio of calories burnt to calories taken affects how much bodyweight your child is on.

Families with active schedules are eating more calorie-dense meals and drinks. Vitamins, minerals, and many essential components are typically lacking in these meals and drinks. 

In addition, most kids are becoming more sedentary indoors and have limited time outside at the same time. The amount of time spent inactively may rise as the prominence of computer games, iPods, and cell phones rise.


There is a chance that a child would become obese due to genetic factors. Children who do have obese parents or siblings could have a higher chance of becoming obese themselves. According to studies, certain genes can cause obesity. However,  despite there being a family record of obesity, not even all children who have one will become overweight.

Society and socioeconomics

The likelihood that your child will become obese can directly relate to where they reside. Your child’s diet is directly impacted by the foods and beverages that academic institutions and daycare facilities provide. They certainly contribute to the daily level of exercise your child receives. Additional socioeconomic elements that promote childhood obesity entail:

  • The price and availability of wholesome food choices.
  • Restricted use to local parks, leisure centers, or various suitable locations to exercise.

Health Issues Associated With Obesity In Children

Children who are obese are more likely to experience health issues compared to their classmates who keep a normal weight.

Asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are some of the most serious dangers.

 Sleep Difficulties

Obese children and adolescents are more likely to experience sleep disturbances like heavy snoring and sleep turbulence. The passageways in their necks may become blocked by excess weight.

Cardiovascular Disorders

Children who are obese are more likely to develop heart disease in the coming years due to excessive cholesterol and blood pressure. Foods heavy in fat and salt can raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels. There are two possible adverse outcomes of cardiovascular problems: heart attack and stroke.

Joint Pain

Your child may also develop joint pain and rigidity, pain, and restricted strength and flexibility as a result of being overweight. Several times, joint issues can be resolved by reducing weight.


When you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not always efficiently process glucose. Diabetes may result in renal malfunction, nerve damage, and eye illness. Type 2 diabetes is prone to occur in overweight adolescents and adults. The illness might be treated by altering one’s food and way of living.


The passageways of the lungs are chronically inflamed with asthma. Obesity is the most prevalent co-morbidity (two illnesses co-existing in the same individual) with asthma.

Nevertheless, scientists are unsure of how the two disorders are related. A current survey in the journal Asthma Research and PracticeTrusted Source found that 38% of American individuals with asthma even have obesity. This very research also discovered that obesity could be a contributing factor for more chronic asthma although not in all obese children.

Prevention Of Obesity In Children

Even though there is no single remedy to the obesity issue, there are various methods parents and other caregivers may support children in maintaining a moderate weight and establishing lifetime healthy behaviours at home.

Display a Healthful Eating Routine

As a family, you may establish healthy eating habits that will support your kids to get and stay at an appropriate weight as they get older. Observing nutritional standards and ensuring your family’s health by consuming a range of fruits and vegetables, healthy grains, lean protein sources, and dairy products with little or no fat is important.

Make half of your child’s meal with fruits and vegetables to assist them to acquire the nutrients they require. You can encourage children to reconsider what they’re drinking by substituting water, natural juice, or plain low-fat milk for sugary beverages like soda, fruit drinks, and flavoured milk.

Substitute Screen time With Family  Time

Children who spend excessive amounts of time on screens may experience inadequate sleep, excess weight, poor academic performance, and poor psychological well-being. Limiting time on screen can make more time available for fun exercises and would take away the temptation to eat unsafe foods.

Reducing television viewing and enhancing rest is sometimes accomplished by switching off devices some minutes before bed and taking away devices from kids’ rooms.

Establish Regular Sleep Schedules

With adequate sleep, we can avoid Obesity, injuries, type 2 diabetes, and issues with concentration. Children who do not receive sufficient sleep face the risk of gaining weight unhealthily. Researchers are still studying the correlation between sleep and weight increase.

How much rest do children require?

Even with naps, toddlers require 11 to 13 hours of sleep daily. Children aged 6 to 12 require 9 to 12 hours of undisturbed sleep per night, while teenagers aged 13 to 18 require 8 to 10 hours. Children would sleep more if their sleep routine is maintained, even on the holidays.

More Family Activities

Children that are actively fit have healthier muscles, skeletons, and cardiovascular systems as well as less body fat. Children between the ages of 3 and 5 ought to be active all day long. Children ages 6 to 17 must engage in bodily activities for a minimum of 1 hour each day.

Make it a household effort to encourage your children to exercise regularly. Physical activities include cycling bikes, playing games in the playground, and strolling the family dog morning and after school. Active tasks like raking leaves, cleaning a room with a vacuum, or washing a car counts as well.

How is Obesity in Children Detected or Diagnosed?

The healthcare professional evaluate your child’s BMI as a key component of routine child monitoring and identifies where your child stands on the BMI-for-age growth chart. The BMI can assist you in determining whether your child is overweight for his or her age and size.

Your healthcare professional calculates your child’s percentile from the growth chart, which represents where your child ranks among children of similar sex and age. For instance, assuming your child is within the 80th percentile, indicates that 80% of kids of similar sex and age got a smaller BMI than your child.

These growth charts, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provide cutoff points that can be used to categorize the degree of a child’s weight issue:

  • 85th to 94th percentiles for BMI —overweight
  • BMI 95th percentile or higher – Obesity 
  • Extreme obesity is defined as BMI in the 99th percentile or higher

Due to the fact that BMI doesn’t take into consideration aspects like having muscle or having a bigger-than-average body shape, and because growth trends differ widely across children, your healthcare professional also takes into account your child’s growth and maturation.  This aids in figuring out if your child’s weight is a problem for their health.

Blood screening

Your child’s doctor might recommend blood evaluation, such as:

  • Cholesterol level test
  • Test for blood sugar 
  • Further blood tests to assess for hormone abnormalities or other obesity-related disorders

Your child must refrain from eating or drinking anything prior to a few of these examinations. Find out if and the duration your child must fast prior to a blood examination.

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